The Armory Show 2015
By: Stephen Wilson
In the wake of what we all pray is the last cold spell of the winter, the Armory Show and all of its sisters descended upon the city. The fair is a circus of high power galleries, notable collectors, celebrities, fashionistas, and an onslaught of spectators. The result is a market force that has changed the landscape of the traditional art sales strategy.
It’s hard to write about the fairs with any sincere praise. Yet for me, the fair represents a singular way to quickly catch up on the current trends in contemporary art, or at least what is fashionably selling. I saw the return of Ryan McGuiness and Barnaby Furnas, who’s work I had not seen in a few years. There was so much referential art that you might think that art had run out of ideas. Notably, I saw a Judd stack created out of cardboard boxes. There were a few throwbacks in Warhol’s and a couple of Alice Neel’s, both standing strong to the onslaught of posturing youths. Somewhere between those two, Richard Prince was up to his old antics. There also seemed to be a return to traditional mediums in opposition to years past, where one might think that painting, and drawing had been completely killed off by technology-enabled art.
Again, call me cynical, but the fairs are a spectacle for us to go and see who’s in the art club. In the hour or so I spent wandering amongst the booths, I saw Terence Koh with a fashionable entourage. There were more than a few groups whose ringleader would talk loudly enough to attract the attention of anyone in earshot about their next shows in Berlin or Paris. There were the rich older men with model girlfriends. There were the model girlfriends with their artist boyfriends. There were the haggard and grizzled New York artists, whose better judgment couldn’t keep them away. I saw the wide-eyed youth of the art school hopefuls. And there were more than a few in the crowd, whom had paid for VIP status to learn they still had to leave the safety of their lounge to walk amongst the masses to actually see anything.
The Armory Show is a capitalist market, where galleries compete for potential buyers attention, and anything goes. It is not a place to hope for engagement in any intellectual thought. This can be easily seen in the galleries showing art that could be described as challenging or cerebral, rather than flashy or easily instagramable. These booths stand lonely, their attendants busily working at their computer, as if they don’t notice the ebb and flow that flock to their surrounding peers.
I left the Armory Show feeling about the same way I went in, hopeful for change, but knowing I still have a few more weeks of cold … See the highlights of the show in the photos.
The Armory Show